The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has announced a convertible loan of $25 million to South African poultry producers Country Bird. The loan will help support the company's expansion in Africa. IFC's investment will allow Country Bird to increase production and operations; encouraging a thriving agribusiness enterprise and creating employment opportunities in Southern Africa and beyond.
With operations including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, Country Bird's business comprises poultry breeding, broiler production, stock feed, and processing. IFC funding will support Country Bird increase chick production over the next three years in Zambia and Botswana, expand feed mill capacity in Zambia, and add poultry processing facilities and two soybean plants in South Africa.
Country Bird's expansion will provide more affordable proteins in Southern Africa, create jobs in the rural areas where the company operates, and increase revenues for its 21,500 maize farmers and 112,000 workers employed through the company's supply chain.
Kevin James, Founder of Country Bird, said "In just a decade since we started operations, Country Bird has become the third largest integrated poultry producer in South Africa. We are seeking to expand our production, so we can meet increasing consumer demand in the region. IFC's investment supports Country Bird's growth and our goal to provide more affordable proteins in Southern Africa."
With increasing urbanization and disposable incomes, per capita meat consumption is expected to double in Africa by 2030, particularly that of poultry, which is cheaper relative to other meats.
Saleem Karimjee, IFC Senior Country Manager for Southern Africa, said, "IFC is committed to investing in companies like Country Bird that catalyze growth in this important sector. Africa needs dynamic regional agribusiness companies that help encourage competitiveness and can expand successful models outside their home markets."
Agriculture accounts for one third to one half of GDP in most African countries, and 80 percent of the poor in Africa live in rural areas. Promoting agribusiness in Africa is a key priority for IFC as is food security, given that the sector employs a large percentage of Africa's labor force, and has a strong impact on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.